by Gabriela Mendez
The algal bloom, or “Red Tide,” poses a great harm to sea life for many years. These past few months have been more harmful than normal as this has been the longest outbreak that has been recorded. High numbers of sea life have died and many humans have gotten sick due to the harmful toxins that are released into the ocean and air by the marine microorganism called ‘Karenia Brevis’ as well as the lack of nutrients in the ocean.
This red tide has now reached the southwest coast, covering 125 miles of Florida’s coastline and is expected to grow even more. Clearwater Beach, where a vast number of UT students go, has been identified as one of the places with high contamination.
In a research study made by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Commission it was stated that “In Southwest Florida for over the past week Red Tide was observed at background to high concentrations in or offshore of Pinellas County, background to high concentrations in Manatee County, background to high concentrations in Sarasota County, medium to high concentrations in or offshore of Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in or offshore of Lee County, and background concentrations in or offshore of Collier County.”
The algal bloom releases toxin into the air so at the moment the best way to protect oneself from the dangerous air is to not go to the beach until the water and air contamination ends.
There have been reports of people having respiratory problems and skin conditions as well as the deaths of thousands of sea animals these past few weeks. Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in response to the red tide. Scott stated on Aug. 22 that he will be giving three million dollars in grants to assist counties impacted by the red tide bloom.
He also made it clear in his statement that Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota will receive 100,000 dollars to help with animal rescue. Scott ordered a commission to assist local efforts to save animals affected by red tide, skilled biologists and scientist will be made available to assist the cleanup and rescue efforts.
There has also been a recent drop in tourist action in Florida due to the knowledge of the red tide and all it’s damages. Scott added that they will be giving 500,000 dollars to Florida’s Tourism Agency so they can create an emergency grant program to help communities promote travel to the affected areas.
There have been many efforts from various clean up organizations for the beaches affected by the red tides. Yet, on a daily basis more dead sea life appear in the shore making the clean up more difficult. Many groups ask for the citizens to join in to make the task a bit easier and faster.
The red tide is not likely to end anytime soon and could last from weeks to a year. The algal bloom will continue on it treacherous path by covering more coastline and causing the death of sea life as well as endangering the health of humans.
The Florida Department of Public Health offers posted some tips for protecting yourself around red tide such as including wearing shoes when walking on sand, avoiding red tide water, wearing a particle filter mask, avoiding red tide areas if you have asthma, do not eat shellfish and keep your pets out of affected areas.
Gabriela Mendez can be reached at Gabriela.firstname.lastname@example.org